Originally Posted by Neil Middlemiss
Nicholas - I would be interested to know if you have heard the CD Score release yet (knowing just how much of a Horner fan you are (like me)) - and if so, what your thoughts are? - That might be a question for another thread, however.
Originally Posted by Chuck Mayer
Nicholas has no doubt listened to the whole thing. I did the first three cues, and that will have to suffice until I've seen the film. I liked what I heard. The first three cues are unmistakably James Horner, but I like what I hear so far. He's given Cameron good scores before, and I'm sure the third time is the charm. I also listened to some of the ending song, and didn't care much for it. Maybe I will after I see the film.
You know me too well.
Since I have never held James Horner in contempt for developing his own material and making use of the classics, I don't have unflattering comments about this score - and looking around the many film music-based forums out there reveals a great many look down on this score as unoriginal garbage.
If you understand Horner's approaches and overall mentality, you can appreciate rather than denigrate his music for this film.
Many will hear this score and think "he spent a year on THIS? " but that's largely because Horner had to write and re-write every cue over and over again to fit the film's revisions and Cameron's choices. "ALIENS" was a similar experience but heavily time-compressed, and "TITANIC" was also similar - that's why so much of the score in the film differs from album and is heavily edited.
Horner spent that year developing an overall atmosphere for the Na'vi culture using Cameron's language and ideas as a basis, and had his team of editors and engineers (Jim Henrikson, Simon Rhodes, and friends) create MIDI mockups of each cue as they went, because as we all know, Cameron shot all the motion capture and had it animated "live" to see the results before having WETA finalize everything with months and years worth of refinements and revisions.
Horner is a composer who works the way a painter, or screenwriter, or director would - developing an idea and evolving it from project to project over the period of his career - only problem is, film music is one area where such things are frowned upon and Horner is often labeled a lazy hack and thief for it.
There are three personalities in this score, and the album reflects this. First a sense of wonder and mystery as we enter the world of Pandora, then a total immersion into the Na'vi culture through lively voices and percussion - this is such lively music - and by that I literally mean "full of life". Horner's take on the Na'vi is one of a celebratory mysterious serenity. The third is the domination of the Na'vi world by the human military, led by Quaritch and his musical devastation of the Pandora environment.
If I were one of the many who dumps on Horner for making use of his previous scores' elements, in this case "Glory", "The Four Feathers" for theme, and "Apocalypto" and "Mighty Joe Young" for stylistic traits, I'd hate this score like some, or be disappointed like many, but I'm not one of those people. I've always embraced Horner's sense of evolution, returning to previous themes and exploring where else he can take them, and therefore to me this is a wonderful album.
And on a more 'fanboy' note, "War" kicks all kinds of hardcore action ass.
If anyone wants that unreleased track from the Avatar music site "Into The Na'vi World", or any other goodies I've recorded and edited, you can find them here:
Lots of odds and ends to be found.